Meal Interview Do's and Don'ts

You may find yourself attending a breakfast, lunch, or dinner interview during your company-site visit. This is usually a good sign that you are under strong consideration. Following are some of the basic do's and don'ts:



Smoking or Non?

A few states still allow smoking in restaurants. If you are at a restaurant where it is allowed, your host may turn to you and ask, "Which do you prefer?" Whether you smoke or not, always respond, "It's up to you." And if you do smoke, do not smoke, even if your interviewer smokes.

Smokers beware. Smoking is at an all-time low on the acceptance scale. You are not a protected minority—and you are definitely in the minority. Even the smell of smoke on your clothes can count against you. If you smoke, do not smoke the day of the interview. In fact, do not smoke after your last shower prior to the interview. And wear fresh clothes that are free of the tobacco smell. Tough rules? Possibly. But there are enough sensitive noses and prejudiced minds out there that you should do your very best to avoid any and all potential negatives. And smoking is one area that most in modern society look down upon.

If you do smoke, there will likely be an advantage to kicking the habit before you begin work—ideally, before you begin interviewing, given the potential negative impact it can have on the job search process. Even in states where tobacco isn't banned at work many companies force employees to smoke either in a designated smoking room or outside the building (which can be especially rough in northern climates). The amount of time necessary for even the average pack-a-day smoker to get their nicotine fix can amount to over 10 percent lost productivity. This fact is not easily ignored by the average manager. And it may eventually work against you, either in your job search or in your professional career.

If you have been looking for an incentive to quit, this may be your opportunity.

Ten Things to Never Order at a Meal Interview

  1. Spaghetti

    It's bad form to cut it, worse form to twirl the huge ball and worst form to slurp up the one that tried to get away…

  2. Pizza

    Ever get hot pizza stuck to the roof of your mouth? Or pulled the toppings off in a clump into your lap?

  3. French onion soup (see The French Onion Soup Technique)

    This is the one soup that should come with a knife and a fork…

  4. Most expensive item on the menu

    You don't want to be an asterisk on an expense report…

  5. Least expensive item on the menu

    That includes anything on the kids menu, even if you still love chicken fingers…

  6. Any fish with the head or bones still attached

    "Hey waiter, I think the chef forgot to skin and clean this fish!"

  7. Any food that requires you to lick your fingers when you are finished

    "Those were the best ribs I've ever eaten…"

  8. Any food that requires a bib

    Even if the little lobster bib does color coordinate with your suit…

  9. Any food in a foreign language unless you are 100% sure of the pronunciation

    "Hey there, garcon, I'll have one of that there fois grass thingees or however you say that…"

  10. Any food you are not entirely sure how to eat

    Artichokes come to mind…

Read more:

The French Onion Soup Technique